A logo is pictured outside a World Health Organization (WHO) building during a board meeting on the update on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 6, 2021.
REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File photo
World Health Organization (WHO) officials said Friday they hoped to hold a meeting soon to establish guidelines for the use of antiviral pills against COVID-19, and said they offered “very attractive” new prospects for clinical care.
Britain was the first country to approve one of the potentially groundbreaking pills earlier this month. Janet Diaz, the WHO’s top official for clinical care response, said a meeting of the guidelines development group would discuss the issue of COVID pills at an upcoming meeting in three weeks.
Another WHO official Mike Ryan said preliminary findings on the pills were “very, very welcome”, adding that a “careful process” was not required before the therapies should be expanded more widely.
“It’s clear that a second-line approach to being able to treat those who get infected is very attractive and it’s very attractive to save lives that way,” he said.
Last week, Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) said its experimental antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 reduced the chance of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of serious illness by 89%.
At the same briefing, WHO legal affairs chief Steven Solomon said talks on an international treaty to increase pandemic preparedness are progressing ahead of a major body meeting later this month.
“There is good reason to believe that they (WHO members) will come to a successful conclusion,” he said.
Discussions are also underway over a possible emergency use list for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, WHO’s Mariangela Simao said, adding that further inspections were needed. “The process is moving again, which is very good news,” she said.